MB did try to make good on this problem. This was a voluntary recall issued by MB. The dealer, sure they made whatever MB decided they would pay the dealer to do the inspection and repair of the problem, and MB paid for it. I don't see how the owner was a loser in any of this. I agree if they are as good as they (MB) says, this never would have happened, but I feel MB did the honorable thing with this recall.
My main point was I feel it was extremely generous of MB to still honor this recall 15 years after the letters were sent out. If the owner (or perhaps more appropriately the owner at the time, as I don't think this was the original owner) would have acted in a timely manner 15 years ago, I doubt the failure would have occured. All I was stating is that it semed "more than fair" (ie. "generous" without using midwestern slang) for MB to give the guy a new subframe. It's more generous, given the circumstances, than I would be if it were up to me. What other car company is going to honor a recall on a 24 year old car (it was a 1977, and this was last year, 2001) that was issued 15+ years ago (1984)? Not many, my friend.
ps Just to clarify, MB DID pick up the tab, and was still doing so last year on the 1977 I mentioned, MB payed the warranty claim on it.